The Birth of Jesus
The Child is Born
Day 16 Monday, December 13th
1. Recognize the Context:
Chapter 1 concludes with the birth of John. Zechariah was finally able to speak. Filled with the Holy Spirit, he broke out into a song of praise. Chapter 2 begins with the birth of Jesus.
2. Read the Scripture: Luke 2:1-7
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
3. Reflect on the Scripture:
Verses 1-5 provide the historical context for the birth of Jesus found in verses 6-7. Luke mentioned Caesar Augustus, which grounded the birth of Jesus to a fixed point in history during the rise of the Roman Empire. The reader is reminded that God’s people were still oppressed by a foreign power and in need of his salvation. A natural contrast is evident between the mention of this Roman decree by a powerful earthly ruler versus the humble, lowly birth of the Messianic King of the Jews. In this way, from the beginning, Jesus shattered Messianic expectations and would continue to do so throughout his life and ministry.
Returning to Caesar’s decree, this census was called for taxation purposes. However, God in his sovereignty was able to accomplish his purposes through the actions of this earthly ruler, a theme presented throughout the Old Testament. It is also noteworthy that Mary accompanied Joseph to Bethlehem. Only men needed to register for a census. So, she was not required to go, and Joseph had no obligation to take her. But he had been commissioned to accept and care for Mary and their child (Matt. 1:20-21). He couldn’t leave her in Nazareth. Therefore, God not only used the decree of an ungodly ruler but the commitment of an obedient man to accomplish his purpose and to bring about the fulfillment of prophecy (Micah 5:2).
Mary gave birth to Jesus and placed him in a "manger." This word means a feeding trough for animals. Joseph and Mary found themselves in the animal quarters of the home because the guest room was unavailable. Most likely, they stayed at a relative's home, which was overcrowded because of the census. They would never be turned away because their culture valued hospitality. There were others in the house who probably had "seniority" regarding the guest quarters. Therefore, Mary and Joseph had to settle with whatever was available.
4. Relate to life:
Remember, it is important to be a doer of God’s Word, not merely a hearer or reader (James 1:22-25). Here are some practical ways to actively respond to God’s Word. Consider these or create other ways you can apply the message.
Today, prayerfully reflect on the story of Jesus’ birth anew, even though you may have heard it many times before.
Questions for prayerful reflection:
What does this story reveal about the plans and purposes of God?
What does Jesus' humble beginning tell about his mission and ministry?
What difference does this make for our world today?
How is your life impacted today? To do: (with the Holy Spirit's help)
Given the questions for reflection above, what can you incorporate into your life today? Think about your attitudes, actions, and words. Think about your family, friends, church community, co-workers.
Be specific and write it down.